The World Health Organization has pegged a per capita investment of $3 to $4 for managing mental health as part of its initiative on World Mental Health day.

This is the 20th year of World Mental Health day and this year's campaign focuses on Investing in mental health. WHO notes that financial and human resources allocated for mental health are inadequate, especially in poorer countries. Data from the WHO emphasize that mental, neurological and substance use disorders are prevalent globally and affect all communities and age groups across all income borders.

Although 14 per cent of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, about 75 per cent in many low-income countries have no access to mental health treatment. To address the need, WHO has unveiled its Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) with the aim of scaling up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders for countries that fall in the low- to middle-income groups.

The mhGAP programme asserts that with proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication, tens of millions could be treated for depression, schizophrenia and epilepsy and, at the same time, be prevented from suicide and lead normal lives even in places where resources are scarce.

WHO says most low- and middle-income countries spend less than 2 per cent of their health budgets on mental illness. The WHO suggests that mental health be integrated into primary health care services in all countries across the world.

This year's theme revolves around cost-effective interventions for restoring mental health. WHO says that for every US $1 million invested, 350 to 700 healthy years of life could be restored.

The Intervention guide extends competence in diagnosis and management to non-specialists including doctors, nurses and other health providers. These evidence-based guidelines are presented as flow charts to simplify the process of providing care in the primary health-care setting.

In a key achievement, the Intervention guide transforms a world of expertise and clinical experience, contributed by hundreds of experts, into less than 100 pages of clinical wisdom and succinct practical advice, said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-ceneral of the WHO.

WHO, in collaboration with partners, would provide technical support to countries to implement the guidelines and has initiated various programs for scaling up care in six countries -- Ethiopia, Jordan, Nigeria, Panama, Sierra Leone and the Solomon Islands.

The programme will lead to nurses in Ethiopia recognizing people suffering with depression in their day to day work and providing psychosocial assistance. Similarly, doctors in Jordan and medical assistants in Nigeria will be able to treat children with epilepsy, says Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.

Marking World Mental Health day, WHO officials estimated that 450 million people all over the world suffer from some sort of mental problem.

Extensive research on mental health depicts that at least one in six individuals who resort to primary health care suffer from a mental illness.

A cause for low coverage on mental health reforms is a result of the stigma and discrimination that surround mental illnesses.

The World Health Organization has estimated that as many as one in four people would suffer from mental disorder at some stage of life. What is challenging is the need to aid mental health sufferers from the trauma of the stigma that is associated with mental illness.

The WHO equates depression treatment in primary care as equally cost effective as antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS. WHO suggests other successful, affordable and cost-effective interventions for other mental disorders such as schizophrenia, alcohol use and epilepsy.

A U.S. national survey of people with disabling mental disorders states that 32 per cent of the sample surveyed were turned down for a job after disclosing their condition; others were sacked from their work; while those who kept their job were shunned or taunted by co-workers.

Other reports such as the Mental Health First Aid reports that psychotic disorders are the most misunderstood and misrepresented of all the mental disorders. This lack of understanding often leads to fear, ignorance and stigmatizing attitudes.